Royal Air Force concerns over cuts
Cuts to the defence budget could see armed forces personnel numbers slashed by 16,000 - with the Royal Air Force bearing the brunt of the reductions, it has been reported.
The RAF could end up with fewer fighter aircraft than at any time since the start of the First World War in 1914 as part of cross-Whitehall cost-cutting, according to detailed proposals seen by The Daily Telegraph.
The Ministry of Defence received some protection in the autumn spending review - being ordered to draw up plans for cuts of between 10% and 20%, compared with the reductions of 25% to 40% facing most other departments.
But, as a major strategic review of Britain's defences continues, Chancellor George Osborne has made clear the MoD will have to meet to cost of renewing the Trident nuclear deterrent from its own budget - putting more pressure on the services.
The newspaper said the plans showed a cut of 7,000 RAF airmen - a sixth of its staff - and 295 aircraft, leaving the Force with fewer than 200 fighter planes for the first time since 1914.
Navy cuts would see 100 senior officers and 2,000 sailors and marines axed along with two submarines and three amphibious ships while the Army would see its fleet of 9,700 armoured vehicles cut by 40% and a 5,000-strong brigade of troops lost when combat troops pull out of Afghanistan - which the Government says will happen by 2015.
The Telegraph said Germany-based 7 Armoured Brigade or 20 Armoured Brigade were likely victims.
An MoD spokesman said: "The Defence Secretary has made clear that tough decisions will need to be made but the complex process of a strategic defence and security review will be concluded in the autumn and speculation at this stage about its outcome is entirely unfounded."